Day 4 – Friday, March 8
Oh yeah, game day! I didn’t wake up feeling well rested, which I attribute to my excitement. Sarah (Hansen) and I gave each other pep talks last night — about what we were going to do this game to help be successful. We both knew North Florida played us the closest in both games during league play, so we were determined to not let that happen again. Regardless, I was ready to go and focused for what would be coming at us at 12 pm. Game preparation was at 7 am, and we were allowed on the court just under an hour which was nice. We didn’t have to rush through any of our preparation points; we knew what plays they would be running the majority of the game, so to start game preparation we split up guards and post. On the guard end we worked on the switching we would do and talked about the importance of our communication, in order to take away the actions they wanted to do. We didn’t look or sound good. Coach (Smesko) brought us together to remind us of what we saw in film, and repeating those actions would cause us to be in another tight game with them. We immediately turned it around and picked up the communication.
The rest of game preparation wasn’t terrible, but it didn’t sound the way it needed to for such a big game. We are better then what we portrayed in game prep this morning and it would be vital (that) we had a great warm-up — with lots of energy to get us going. There were good times we defended their sets and others not so much; we must focus more during the game.
Immediately when we got back, we had pregame meal. Since our game was early, our pre game meal was breakfast food. Once again I had bacon, juice, and eggs, no breakfast potatoes because my teammates ate them all. After my shower I usually, get off my legs and watch TV or do homework but today I decided to join in with Sarah on her ritual and take a power nap. Ask anybody who knows me and they would tell you I don’t do naps in the middle of the day unless I’m sick. But like I said, I didn’t feel that well rested, and I needed to be for this game. The nap was a life saver, thirty minutes was all I needed and it helped me a ton.
As far as pregame rituals I have a few. I always have to listen to music and dance. The two songs I always listen to are Put it Down by Brandy featuring Chris Brown and The Motto by Drake. Other than that I listen to pretty much anything Chris Brown or that has a good beat. My teammates will deny it, but they love to hear me rap. I can sing, but rapping is not my game. Today I rapped The Motto to Whitney and she joined in with me as I danced around the locker room; I got about 35% of the lyrics right. The entire team knows I love to make everyone laugh with my silliness by making up lyrics or saying some sound that at least goes with the rhythm. It’s fun to dance around and loosen up before the game.
I get my knee taped, but I can’t get it taped until Sarah gets her ankle taped which means Joyce has to get her Achilles taped before Sarah. Just the way it has been all year long, so we’re going to continue to do that. When our athletic trainer Brittany Loring tapes me, I sing whatever song is on, and she usually joins in. After she tapes me, I give her my necklace with my number on it (24) to wear during the game. My sister Jennifer bought it for me in high school, and ever since then I wear it ever game day. The last two rituals I have to do is pray, which I do during the national anthem to thank Him for the blessings he has given our team, protect both teams free of any serious injuries — and for the safe travels of the fans there and those who are watching elsewhere. The last thing I must do before every game is touch the back of my shoes before the tip. Both shoes have the number, initials and nickname of two teammates who unfortunately tore their ACL’s this year. Whitney (Knight) is on my left and Taylor (Gradinjan) on my right. For me I know they’re out there with us on the court even though they can’t play.
We got off to a great start this afternoon. The entire team was determined to not have a close game with North Florida again and play the game the way we knew how to. We jumped on them early and scored easy baskets in transition. Our defensive intensity was much better on focusing on ball pressure and helping guard the post. It was great to see the improvement we made from just two nights ago. Every timeout Sarah, Joyce or I were telling the team to keep up what we were doing and keep North Florida on their heels and attack.
We attacked them all day starting at the tip. The first half was awesome. The second half we had some break downs but not enough for them to get close or looking sloppy like we did Wednesday. I am so proud of Joyce. She has been the catalyst for us this tournament. She’s playing with a chip on her shoulder and the entire team is right there supporting her. She made EVERY shot she took! Talk about shooting lights out. She attacked off the dribble and was draining threes when they went to their zone. Point blank period, they didn’t have an answer for her. None of the shots she took were forced which made it even better. I’m proud to have her as my teammate and playing with her. She has been a big reason why we have been successful both games thus far in the tournament. We have one more game to compete in. We’ve come this far and we aren’t stopping for anybody. I can’t wait for the championship game tomorrow!!
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